SOLDIERS from 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh celebrated St David’s Day at Lucknow Barracks in Tidworth in traditional style in a day that began with ‘Gunfire’, tea laced with rum being served at reveille.

This was followed by a parade to honour the Patron Saint of Wales in a ceremony attended by the French Defence Attaché who, along with the regimental colonel, presented the leeks to members of the battalion.

The occasion also marked the centenary of the Croix de Guerre, a French military decoration awarded to the antecedent regiment, the 7th Battalion South Wales Borderers for action during their 1917-18 Salonica campaign.

The battalion, less two companies who were at Castlemartin Ranges training, marched on to the square led by the regimental mascot and pioneers in ceremonial dress.

After the leeks were presented, the French Defence Attaché, Colonel Armil Dirou, addressed the battalion and told them of the significant honour that the award of the Croix de Guerre was, only four British battalions had been so awarded.

The colonel was presented with a map of the Crimean battlefield where British and French soldiers had fought side to side against the Russians. Colonel Dirou then took the salute of the regiment alongside the regimental colonel.

“It was a great honour to be invited to present the leeks,” said Colonel Dirou. “I come from Brittany and we are closely allied to the Welsh. Tradition is very important in military life.”

“There is great Anglo-French military co-operation, we are the only two countries in Europe who are ready and prepared to deploy troops on operations.”

After the parade, in a private ceremony in the warrant officers and sergeants’ mess, Colonel Dirou presented the Legion d’Honneur to Mr Brindley Llewellen Waters, a 97-year-old Welsh Guards veteran who took part in the D-Day Landings in his Cromwell tank.

The battalion then held a regimental lunch where the youngest soldier in each company had to eat a raw leek and drink a pint of beer. The battalion, less one company who are on 12-hour standby to move, left for weekend leave. A regimental dinner was held in the evening where all newly-joined officers were invited to eat a raw leek.